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Head Trauma


Lance Weiler, the director of the film The Last Broadcast (which has been described as the “original Blair Witch Project”) released another film last september: Head Trauma. What is interesting about the project is the STACK OF GREAT THINGS HE HAS DONE with the film!! Firstly, he or the film has a presence on many social networking sites, such as MySpace, YouTube, Twitter, and faciltiates community with his blog and vlog. He gives back to the community too, by providing information about DIY filmmaking on the DVD and has an “open source repository on filmmaking“. 

Second, he has a great graphic novel on the main website, which is half comic/half vignettes of the film. It feels like a cross between the “webler” that was created for Peter Greenaway’s transmedia project The Tulse Luper Suitcases using stills and audio from the film and the graphic novels used in the Heroes 360 Experience (I love the integration of the graphic novel and film narratives by the way).

Thirdly, he has created an alternate soundtrack of the film ala Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of Oz. Lance describes it at the HTMySpace site:

We created an alternate soundtrack for my newest feature film HEAD TRAUMA. The soundtrack CD is meant to be cued up with a special scene on the DVD of the movie. So if you turn down the volume on the TV and turn up the volume on the stereo you’ll get an alternate soundtrack experience.

Here is their movie describing the process. Lance calls it “a natural extension to the narrative”. This extension actually seems more like the album Haunted that accompanied Mark X. Danielewski’s House of Leaves. But back to Head Trauma. You have to go another website ( to find the secret scene to synch the music with…and the synch scene is perfect. I really like the way link love is shared with this distribution of clues. Rather than create a whole lot of sites yourself, embed clues in sites of fellow crew etc. Share the link love. Lance sees the alternate versions, the remixing as being integral to the story too:

Philadelphia Weekly Online reports:

You’ve released a Dark Side of Oz-style alternate soundtrack CD of your film called Cursed: The Head Trauma Music Project with people like Dr. Dog, Bardo Pond and Sun Ra’s Marshall Allen. Is this screening a continuation of that?

“Yeah. Because Head Trauma deals with the fragmentation of memory, I thought it’d be cool to create other versions of the film. Movies kind of get stuck by being the same thing over and over again. A band can go and play and reinterpret their music, or fans can reinterpret it by doing covers. Films don’t have that option.”

This interweaving of snippets of memory and remixing (and sharing the filmmaking etc) is something that the team behind SMSSugarman in South Africa have been developing too. But, one difference is what Lance offers as a new cinema experience. This is where we get to cool point number four. I’ll let the the press release tell the good news:

In what has been called a cinema ARG (alternate reality game) HEAD TRAUMA is taking a hybrid of music, movies and gaming on the road for a number of special event screenings 

The event consists of three core elements.

1. A screening of HEAD TRAUMA with a live soundtrack performance by Bardo Pond, Espers, Fern Knight, Marshal Allen (Sun Ra), Steve Garvey (Buzzcocks) and others. The music is mixed live with the dialog and sound effects tracks from the film to create a new alternate soundtrack.

2. Various props and sets from the film are setup on stage and certain characters from the film will emerge from the audience.

3. During the course of the film a phone number appears on screen. When viewers call the number they begin a game that will last through the film and follow them home.

They receive a number of cryptic clues as they are asked to solve a series of riddles. The interaction involves phone calls and text messages from the characters of HEAD TRAUMA that will lead viewers to hidden clues spread across the Internet.

“We’re trying to change the cinematic experience. We want to take the concept of narrative storytelling and move it across multiple devices and screens, so it is engaging the audience in new and different ways. People have been calling it a cinema ARG and the response to the initial screenings has been amazing. Not to mention I’m always looking for new ways to scare the audience.” Says HEAD TRAUMA creator Lance Weiler.

Bravo Lance.

HT Main site:

2007 sagasnet projects

The 2007 Developing Interactive Narrative Content Seminar run by sagasnet is currently in play.

During this Developing Interactive Narrative Content Seminar pre-selected interactive narrative projects in development (no limitation on media, genre or target audience) will be provided in parallel with high-profile face-to-face consulting sessions (on financing, project management, marketing, story structure, game play…). Consultants will be chosen according to the needs of the selected projects.

The experts they have providing advice are:

| Frank Boyd | Greg Childs | Christophe Erbes | Chris Hales | Sibylle Kurz | Raimo Lang | Peter Olaf Looms | Mark Stephen Meados | Mark Ollila | Michel Rüger | Richard Rouse III | Nathan Shedroff | Lee Sheldon | Inga von Staden | Teut Weidemann | Ingo Wolf |

And here are some of the projects (I’ve picked out the ones that interest me):

Kai Graebner, Soap Blog
– online extension of a TV soap, with a holistic storytelling approach combining linear and interactive narration.

Douglas Grant, Steppin’ Out
– an interactive film in which your on-the-fly navigation of the narrative reveals who’s fooling who (including you) – or does it?

John Griffith, Treasure Hunt
– a fun-filled learning experience, where participants interact with each other, the physical world and a multimedia interface (a cross-media adventure activity).

Mark Grindle/Minttu Mantynen, Wildlife
– an episodic series of downloadable interactive stories of eleven-year old Milie McGowan and her amazing ability to transform herself into wild animals.

Leidi Haaijer, … What does it take to make a choice …
– a screenplay on reality and the dream of love; evolving through chat, web cam, e-mail, telephone and sms.

Catherine Kahn/ Trond Morten Kristensen, Heidi
– a multi-platform scifi drama exploring the meeting point between the individuality of the gaming world and a filmatic experience of the little screen on the go.

Mitja Kostomaj, Spinning Top Adventures
– a story spinning your mind, an ambient interactive storybook moving your body: a set of edutainment games using the body to help children in their motor, emotional and intellectual development.

Phillip Prager, Polyalphabet
– an interactive installation based on an associative, recombinant narrative, transforming an aleatoric text by John Cage.

Check out:

Closure on the web

The notion of closure in interactive narratives has been explored by, among others, hypertext-response theorist Jane Yellowless Douglas. In her paper, “How Do I Stop this Thing?”: Closure and Indeterminacy in Interactive Narratives, Douglas analyses the assumptions we make as readers and how we long for closure, even if the text doesn’t supply it:

Even in interactive narratives, we as readers never encounter anything quite so definitive as the words “The End,” or the last page of a story or novel, our experience of the text is not only guided but enabled by our sense of the “ending” awaiting us. (p. 40)

The idea of closure on the web is even more of an issue. Indeed, with the narrative expansion of worlds by producers as well as fans now, there is no such thing as closure of a storyworld anymore. But what about the author’s need for closure? I am on many social networking sites, I blog here and at other places and I must admit that I sometimes fantasize about not having a blog. I am always amazed when I meet people who don’t blog and try to remember what that was like. Bloggers sometimes go on hiatus, but they very rarely end. This is why I was quite surprised, pleasantly surprised, to see this note left on a blog I was chasing up an old link from Rob Coverfish:



I say pleasantly surprised because I sometimes would love to just close shop and because I had (thankfully) taken a screenshot of the article I was after, so there was no loss to my archives. Good on you Glark. May you rest in peace.

Reference: Douglas, J. Y. (1994). “How Do I Stop this Thing?”: Closure and Indeterminacy in Interactive Narratives. Hypert/Text/Theory. G. L. (ed.). Baltimore, Johns Hopkins University Press: 159-188. [pdf]